Today I enjoyed a lunch out of my ordinary routine with one of my favorite Charleston writers, Susan Lucas. Chef Ollard prepared us a few of his newly inspired dishes. If you’ve yet to take a lunch break at Amen Street, you’re overlooking this downtown lunchtime diamond in the rough.
First up, we sampled Amen’s re-imagined Ceviche, a dish that swapped the traditional tuna for shrimp. We loved the colorful presentation of pink shrimp, red tomatoes and green cilantro surrounded by a halo of crisp yellow corn chips. The Shrimp Ceviche was light and citrusy, a perfect accompaniment to our plate of Florida Golden Tilefish Crudo. The crudo looked beautiful on its white rectangular plate with a neat row of thinly sliced fish, a drizzle of lemon herb oil and dusting of microherbs and pink sea salt.
The main attraction was Local Swordfish served over Sliced Asparagus, Tomatoes and Mepkin Abbey Mushrooms in Lemon-Herb Oil. Warm, totally mouth-watering and the perfect filling for an empty stomach. Locally sourced ingredients are an Amen Street “thing.” While the seafood portion of their dishes typically get the recognition, Susan shared a fun fact about the mushrooms.
Little did I know, just up the road from downtown Charleston sits Mepkin Abbey, a living monastery. As long as I’ve lived in Charleston, I’ve never thought too much about the city of Moncks Corner’s namesake. Now it all makes sense. The full story behind these mushrooms is fascinating. The Trappist Monks of Mepkin Abbey tend to this large-scale mushroom production of the oyster and shiitake varieties. Lucky for us, Mepkin Abbey’s mushroom production is so plentiful, Charlestonians can sample the mushrooms at a handful of restaurants or grab their own at Piggly Wiggly or Newton Farms.
Our lunch featured the Mepkin Abbey’s Oyster Mushrooms, a wonderful compliment to seafood. Grown in clusters, these mushrooms have a hearty taste: similar to a Portobello but lighter. Chef Ollard’s preparation and lemon-herb oil dressing brought out their delicious taste. I think I’m hooked.
I never tire from a enjoying a quick, light lunch in Amen’s sun-drenched dining room on East Bay Street. And a meal is so much better over a great story.
Thank you Susan Lucas for these beautiful photographs!